RJR — A good friend.

RJR — A good friend.


Review: Hugh & Crye dress shirts


When I first started trying to rebuild my wardrobe, one of the first things I did was swear off shirts that didn’t come in my exact neck and sleeve size. No more alpha (small, medium, large, etc.) sizing, as I could never find a combination that fit my frame correctly. Over time, I developed a preference for custom, made-to-measure shirts. Going back to ready-to-wear is a tough proposition. 

But as I’ve said countless times in dress shirt reviews before, made-to-measure isn’t for everyone. And if you’re fortunate to be able to buy items off the rack that you enjoy and fit well, then you should do it because it’ll save you time and you can often find good deals. 

I wanted to provide that personal background so you can understand my experience with Hugh & Crye better. They have the most unique sizing I’ve ever encountered and when they contacted me to review one of their shirts, I had to ask them for help on what “size” shirt to pick from. They were extremely helpful, but I would point out that it helps to know your basic measurements.

Instead of sizing guys by neck and sleeve, they size you by your build (skinny, slim, athletic, broad) and height (short, average, tall). That’s it. 

I won’t deny being highly skeptical of the idea, but it actually worked for me. They placed me in the “tall/skinny” fit, which I suppose is an accurate description of body. 


I received their Rockefeller shirt that features a spread collar, barrel cuff, placket front and no pocket on a blue and white striped poplin fabric made of 120s Egyptian cotton.


The collar stands pretty well, even after two washes now. I hate collar stays (and the shirt includes removable ones), and I liked the fact the collar managed to stay up well without them under a jacket. 

The buttons are plastic, but they are decently thick and don’t feel cheap at all. Along the placket’s end, the bottom buttonhole is horizontal. This allows the shirt to move as your waist expands to have some give without stressing the placket and causing it to pull (probably helpful to those of us who drink too much beer or enjoy pasta). 


The shirt’s side seams feature single-needle construction, which is preferred to the double-needle construction you see on cheaper and lower-quality shirts. 

The back of the shirt is darted, helping trim and taper the torso’s extra fabric. I’ll admit that I don’t have my MTM shirts darted, but I’ve never minded when ready-to-wear shirts add darts. I feel they only help the shirt fit better. 


At the base of the side seams are Hugh & Crye’s signature contrasting gussets, which help prevent the shirt’s seams from splitting from stress. I haven’t seen gussets like this before and thought they looked pretty cool. Thankfully, the contrasting fabric is tastefully complimentary and simple. 

The shirt’s construction overall felt well done. Hugh & Crye’s site says they primarily manufacture their shirts in India and source fabrics from Italy. In addition, they have a rather comprehensive disclosure page about their sourcing. I thought this was rather a rather interesting level of transparency, which I hope becomes more common from others. 

In regards to the fit of the shirt, I really liked it and their approach to sizing worked for me — a pleasant surprise. Their shirts range from $85 to $125, slightly more expensive than Brooks Brothers, but cheaper than many department store brands.

I would add Hugh & Crye to a very short list of ready-made shirtmakers I’d recommend. Combined with a good variety of classic fabrics and thoughtful construction, they’ve managed to produce a competitively priced shirt. 



Review: Gustin Denim

A while back I blogged about Gustin Denim’s Kickstarter project and also mentioned it at Put This On, which came in with the promise to offer $81 raw selvedge denim jeans. 

The pitch hit all the right notes: denim fabric sourced in the United States or Japan, made in San Francisco and a price that reflects selling direct to customers versus retail markup. 

The Kickstarter was a massive success, but my one hangup on issuing a blanket recommendation about Gustin was that I’d not handled the product myself and I thought sizing could be a bit tricky along with exchanges. I also wondered what Gustin would do post-Kickstarter and how they would continue to offer their jeans to those who wanted them. 

Gustin launched their new website this week and they were kind enough to provide me with a pair to examine and photograph for this review.

After having hand’s on with Gustin’s jeans, I’m giving them a recommendation. 

One of the first things I noticed about Gustin’s jeans were the back pockets and their unique blue horizontal stitch. At first, I thought this was a decoration, but it turns out that it’s actually there to functionally attach an inner cloth liner to help prevent your back pockets from blowing out and forming holes. 

Of course, you can look up a bit higher and see the leather patch. I’m not person who places a lot of value on the leather patch on denim, but it does feel more substantial than one that would appear on a pair of Levi’s. However, it feels thinner than the Tanner Good patch that comes on a pair of 3Sixteens. As someone who wears a belt over the patch anyway, I’m not too hung up on it, but I did appreciate that the patch is darker and subdued rather than outlandish. 

The inside of the jeans is pretty standard. The left pocket has a patch sewn on with information about the jean’s fabric, fit, care instructions, etc., and the fly also features a selvedge edge. 

What really impressed me, however, were the buttons. I love the buttons on this pair more than any other jeans I’ve worn or seen. 

The tops of the buttons feel thick, unlike other pairs where the fly buttons are almost sharp along the edges. The result is a more knob-like feel that buttons smoother and rolls along your fingertips better. It’s hard to explain why I’m obsessed with these buttons, but Gustin sourced unique hardware. 

The seam rivets are also interesting. Rather than having tiny studs that stand up and protrude, their rivets are recessed and smoother as you brush over them. 

Gustin also uses some subtle stitching details with red thread, placing it along the inside hem, the crotch seam and at the outside opposite the selvedge. It’s a small detail that most won’t ever see, but it’s a nice way to distinguish their pairs from others without going over the top.

Of course, a large selling point of jeans comes down to fit.

I’m a natural 33” waist and typically take a 32” waist in most raw selvedge denim jeans I buy. Gustin didn’t have a 32” available to send me, but did provide me with a pair in size 33”. 

If you know your actual measured waist size, I’d recommend definitely sizing down 1” and perhaps consider going down 2” to account for stretching in the denim over time.

Regardless, I felt the jeans offered a good fit that was flattering and looked slightly better than a pair of Levi’s 501s would give you. The seat area of the jeans were comfortable and I felt that going down a size or two would still be pretty good and only slightly tighter. The rise was about where I’d like a pair of jeans to be — not too low, just slightly above a mid-rise. 

For those of you who don’t like a straight cut, Gustin is now offering a slim cut. I’d perhaps also consider going with a slim cut if you’d like a smaller leg opening. You can see their size chart here

In their post-Kickstarter phase, Gustin is now doing something similar on their own website. You can “back” a pair of jeans for pre-order and if enough buyers back a particular fabric, then the jeans begin production. Prices range from the original $81 to $99 — both of which I think are a very fair price for these jeans. 

The one thing I cannot comment on yet is how Gustin’s jeans will look over time after many wears and a wash, but that’s a risk you take with any new pair of jeans. What I can say is that I think Gustin is bringing a lot of value and thought into their jeans and if you’re on the fence, then consider trying a pair. 


Review: Hall & Madden dress shirts

The premise behind Hall & Madden is simple: it’s a dress shirt subscription.

You pick your size, pick your fit and every 3, 4 or 6 months (depending on your plan) they’ll send you three dress shirts in a box for $150.

It’s an intriguing concept, blending the concepts of subscription-clothing startups like Manpacks and Trunk Club and narrowing the focus on just dress shirts. It’s a service targeting its product at guys who desire a well-fitting shirt based on sizing they’re familiar with and sold at a price that’s extremely competitive while maintaining use of high quality construction and fabrics. 

Hall & Madden comes from the same gentlemen behind Proper Suit (read my Proper Suit review here) and it surprised me they made the decision to not go down the path of offering MTM shirting. Instead, the founders told me they wanted to branch out away from the customization-only customer and focus this business on guys who just want a well-made shirt that fits them and their budget. 


From a business perspective, it certainly makes sense (and I say this as someone whose shirt wardrobe stands at 60% MTM), as a majority of guys probably won’t ever be convinced to invest the time, effort and money on MTM. Measure yourself or a well-fitting shirt, waiting for the shirts to arrive and tinkering with measurements on a test shirt does take a certain level of customer enthusiasm — especially if you jump from company to company.

Hall & Madden seeks the customer who doesn’t want to deal with retailer dressing rooms or having to even make a decision on what color or pattern to purchase. Instead, you get a basic box with three shirts inside every few months. 

The box I received had one white herringbone shirt with a cutaway collar, a blue twill with a spread collar and a grey with white pinstripe shirt with a button-down collar — two shirts that can be worn with suits and one that’s more casual for under sweaters or with sport jackets. 

In terms of construction quality, Hall & Madden shirts are the best I’ve seen on from any ready-to-wear company at this price point. I don’t know of any other shirt you can buy for $50 that has these features. 


Seams are single-needle stitched on the shirt, versus the less-desirable double-needle stitching. I can only think of two other companies that single-needle stitch their shirts that come close to the same price. Lands’ End does it for a few of their shirts (not sure about all of them), but their fit isn’t as good or trim. Brooks Brothers does it, but only on their U.S.-made OCBDs — their foreign-made shirts (which are the majority of style they sell) are all double-needle. 



Another detail on the side seams of the shirt that’s worth pointing out are the gusseted ends. Gussets are a piece of fabric sewn on to help prevent seams from tearing or coming apart at the end. I don’t own any other shirts that have this detail — off-the-rack or made-to-measure. Frankly, I’m kind of peeved that this isn’t standard on most of the MTM shirtmakers I’ve used. 

For buttons, Hall & Madden uses only thick, mother-of-pearl buttons that feel and look substantial. This is another area that shirtmakers sometimes skimp on (or in the case of MTM, you pay extra for), but it’s standard in this case. In terms of fabric, they use 2-ply, unblended cotton. 


I feel the need to also point out that some shirts come with contrasting interior fabric on the cuffs and collar. Thankfully, it’s tastefully done (a solid navy with the blue twill, a tattersall check with the white herringbone) and actually compliments instead of clashes with the shirts.  

In terms of fit, Hall & Madden does something clever: they base their three fits off of those from Hugo Boss’ “regular”, “sharp” and “slim” fit shirts. If you own a shirt from Hugo Boss or can get to a store to try one on in the respective fit, then you’ll know exactly how these shirts will fit you (at one-third the price). 

As it so happens, my current tuxedo shirt is from the Hugo Boss “slim” fit line — and it was the only tuxedo shirt that I could find that fit slim. Compared against the Hall & Madden shirts, the fit is identical as far as I can tell — but the Hugo Boss shirt is actually double-needle stitched. 

Hall & Madden darts the back of their shirts, which tapers the torso toward the waist for a slimmer fit. Also, the shirt’s back is unpleated, which also helps give the shirt additional slimness. 


I also like the collars on the shirts — they’re substantial. They’re not trendy short and skinny like a lot of retailers are offering right now, which have a tendency to give most guys terrible-looking collar gap when worn with a suit jacket. The collars stand up well and fall easily under a jacket’s lapels — even when worn without a tie. 

I’ve been wearing them for a few months now and they’ve held up well through several washings. While I like a good OCBD, I’ve reached for these shirts when I wanted to go tieless, but not quite as casual as a button-down collar. 

For each subsequent box you receive, Hall & Madden tries to include two shirts that will work for wearing at the office — something in blue, something in white, both a bit more conservative — and then a third shirt in a bolder pattern or color — like the purple gingham you see below. 

Overall, Hall & Madden is a great value. If your priority is predictable fit, quality construction and an affordable price, then Hall & Madden comes with a recommendation. 

If you want to give Hall & Madden a try, then they have a special offer for readers here at The Silentist: After you place your order, email support@hallmadden.com to tell them you read the review here and they’ll include a free white linen pocket square to the first 15 subscribers. 


Sneakers and Suits: No, thank you

Last week, Evolving Style mused about wearing sneakers with a casual suit, saying, “Done well, it just looks good.” (Yes, he said much more than that and wrote a follow-up, too. Go read both, as they’re the reason why I’m writing this post.) 

One may argue the look is “trendy”, “fashionable” or even “stylish” in the most broad sense of the term, but it doesn’t present a look of being well-dressed in a “classic” sense. And that’s my objection to the look.

I’m not entirely sure why people enjoy the sneakers and suit look. Perhaps these synthetic, rubber-soled, radioactive-neon tumors show their keen sense of rebelliousness and creativity — so eager to break rules! — where the contradiction is the appeal.

But I don’t share those values and it’s my preference to wear clothing where each item shares a similar level of formality and function. 

The visual effect of looking at a tailored suit and then ending at the sneaker is a jarring one. This comes from the inherent contradictory realms the pieces occupy. To be dressed well, all elements must work in concert, not in chaos. 

The simple fact is that sneakers are for athletics and sportswear — they’re a different class of clothing in terms of use and formality than what even the most casual of suits can occupy. The two should remain separate for their respective functions and never intersect. 

It should be understood that while sneakers are for casual wear, a casual suit is simply just a less-formal type of suit. This doesn’t diminish the suit’s importance and reason for being worn to that of a situation where casual athletic sportswear is appropriate. 

A casual suit requires a more casual shoe, however, not the most casual shoe. Bucks, saddle shoes, spectators, suede brogues and even the controversial loafer are appropriate for the casual suit. I feel this achieves a harmonious look and is best. 

I find the look a bit childish, like what a teenager or disaffected college student would do in a situation where they’re forced to wear a suit but hate the idea of dressing up. 

I like wearing the appropriate clothing for the situation. I see no personal need for fashionable rebellion. 


Proper Suit summer fabrics & unstructured jackets

Last week, the guys from Proper Suit let me know they had new fabric books in for spring and summer. 

Since my review of Proper Suit back in November, Proper Suit has been featured in Esquire's Style Blog and Bloomberg TV — it’s good to see a Chicago men’s clothing company get some national level attention — and they’ve now opened up a 3,600-square foot office in Chicago’s River North area to take local Chicago appointments. 

But the stuff I’m really excited about are their new fabrics for the warmer seasons. The variety of lightweight wools, linens, cottons and wool-silk-linen blends offer an exciting buffet of choices for odd jackets in the summer — or suits if you intend to go with a more conservative solid linen or seersucker fabric. 

Proper Suit has fabrics available from a variety of Italian mills, including Loro Piana, Zegna, Artison Napoli, Reda, VBC, Delfino, Ormezzano, Solbiati, Imparato and Fintes. 

In addition to these seasonal offerings, Proper Suit told me they’re now offering unstructured jackets as an alternative to their traditional full-canvas construction. Customers have been asking them for a while if they can offer it and they’ve worked with their manufacturer to add the option. 

After some consideration, I picked a 240-gram brown plaid linen fabric with a mid-blue check (seen on the bottom of the first fabric photo above) from Ormezzano. 

For details: brown horn buttons, bemberg lined sleeves, patch pockets, dual vents, notched lapels and of course a 3-2 roll buttoning stance. Because of the unstructured nature of the jacket, we narrowed the shoulders a bit from my suit pattern and raised the armhole slightly. 

I’m excited to see how it turns out an in a few weeks should have photos and a review up for those curious about trying the program. If you’d rather not wait, then you can visit Proper Suit and book an appointment to see the fabrics for yourself. 


Review: J. Lawrence Khaki’s of Carmel khaki trousers


I want to make an admission: I’ve only owned one pair of khakis since getting into this whole menswear, dressing-better thing. 

I know it’s a wardrobe staple, the bedrock of casual workplace wardrobes across the country, but I’ve really only owned one and even that pair I ended up selling after a few months. My preference has always been to wear wool trousers or denim. 

(I will admit to buying a pair of beige canvas cotton trousers last year, however, I don’t consider them true khaki drill cotton trousers.)

For a while I was slowly considering several options from the usual suspects, but kept putting it off. After all, they weren’t a personal wardrobe staple for years, why rush a purchase now?

In a weird coincidence, Jim Ockert, the owner of J. Lawrence’s Khaki’s of Carmel, contacted me to ask if I’d be willing to review their new private label line of — what else? — khaki trousers. 

Khakis from Khaki’s. Sure, I’m game. 

(To get the obvious questions out of the way: No, they don’t just sell khakis at Khaki’s and the name “Khaki’s” was chosen by Jim because it was easy to remember — much in the same way “Polo” is identifiable with Ralph Lauren.) 


When I first received the trousers, I took note of a few things. First, the fabric weight and density felt substantial. I’ve tried chinos and khaki trousers from several brands and some of their fabric just felt thin and cheap. Not the case with these pants, which are made of an English drill cotton. 

Jim said the twill fabric he chose is unwashed and won’t stretch or change over time like some cotton fabrics do (indeed, I noticed such things happened on a pair of chinos from Brooks Brothers). The interior piping and pockets are made from Italian oxford cotton fabric. 

In regards to the trouser’s construction, Jim said he instructed his manufacturer in New York to find details to add in rather than subtract out to save costs. 


When it comes to fastening details, the trousers don’t cut corners. The trousers have a YKK metal zipper and a French fly with an extended tab on the front so the waistband stays straight. 

On the interior, a two-piece pleated waist curtain gives the trousers better fit just below the waist and the waistband itself is split so you can alter it if you gain or lose weight (most cheap chinos will have a single-block waistband that’s unalterable). 

The trousers completely lack branding with the exception of the center belt loop being a charcoal flannel material — a quirky signature from Jim (if this is too much whimsy for you, then a spare belt loop make of English drill is included, too). 

While details are nice, cut and fit still matter the most. While the J. Lawrence line will feature two cuts, I asked to try the contemporary fit rather than the slim fit. Over the past year, I’ve come to find that slim trousers aren’t very flattering on me and combined with my larger feet, they can make me look a bit awkward. 


I’m really happy with the contemporary fit. It’s relaxing to wear, but still very flattering. The trousers come unhemmed and I had them altered to just a bit past “no break” without a cuff. There’s enough room for movement in the seat and thigh area without it looking too wide and after a few wearings I’ve found them quite comfortable to lounge in while sitting down at my desk. 

The rise is what I’d call a slightly higher mid-rise, which is another one of my preferences now. The legs taper slightly with a leg opening of 8” (on a 33” waist), which I guess one would call almost conservative by today’s standards. 

Jim informed me that the cut of the trouser is unique to Khaki’s and their slim cut features a lower rise and more tapered leg, which may be the preference of others who are looking for that look. 

"We’re not trying to make ‘candy clothing’ that looks good but you can’t wear it," Jim said. "It’s wearable and approachable anywhere in the world." 

I’ve enjoyed wearing the trousers with a simple OCBD and a cashmere cable-knit crewneck sweater and penny loafers or chukka boots (as seen above), which all seem coherent with a casual trouser. Of course, I’ve also found myself wearing it with a navy blazer and wingtips.


Curious, I asked Jim how he’d choose to style the khaki trouser on one of the 98 mannequins in his store and he responded by styling three of them at his store with the trousers in their various colors. 

If you’re interested in purchasing a pair, Jim said you can e-mail him personally at jimockert@yahoo.com or call the store at 1-800-664-8106 and he’d be happy to chat with you. 

And if you haven’t read it yet, check out brokeandbespoke’s profile of Jim Ockert and J. Lawrence Khaki’s of Carmel. It’s a good read and after my chats on the phone with Jim I can honestly say it’s an accurate portrayal of Jim’s enthusiasm for menswear — and I genuinely hope to make it out to his store in the future to see it in person.  






Review: Proper Cloth made-to-measure dress shirt


"We’ve been working on streamlining our process and now in just two weeks you’ll have a MTM shirt delivered to your door."

That was the bold promise of Proper Cloth, who contacted me about providing a made-to-measure dress shirt for me to review. I found this fascinating and impressive. 

One of the startling things about made-to-measure operations now is the turn-around time. Where traditional bespoke used to take months, made-to-measure now can be done in a matter of weeks — but even a two-week timeline from order placed to arrival at your door is insanely fast. 

Naturally, speed isn’t everything when it comes to custom-made shirting. Fit is still paramount alongside construction quality. But as someone who has tried several other MTM operations before, it’s interesting to see a company focus on shipping logistics, too. 

I went my usual route for measurements at the Proper Cloth site, entering in measurements off my best-fitting shirt, which usually produces the best results. Other methods are available, of course, but I didn’t want to tread in those waters. The shirt-building process is similar to other MTM shirting sites, beginning with you picking your choice of fabric and then entering details for the various elements: collar, cuffs, placket, monogram, etc. 


Now, I know I’ll get asked about that two-week delivery time, but I feel kind of bad in how I tested it: I placed the order five days before Christmas. Between two holidays and the massive postal rush, the shirt didn’t quite arrive within the timeline — just two days over. Fedex also reported an international shipping clearance delay on the package. So, I’m actually impressed it arrived as fast as it did and I’m sure under normal circumstances that two-week window is accurate. 

Enough about shipping though, let’s get to the shirt. 


While I usually enjoy wearing blue shirts, I opted to go with a checked shirt with alternating blue and brown lines to be worn with tweed jackets and suits. A bit more casual because of the pattern, but still subtle and not too loud. 

Proper Cloth offers the usual wide range of fabrics ranging from $80 to quite a few in the $150-$200 range from Thomas Mason, Canclini and Albini. I actually went with a $95 cotton broadcloth fabric simply for the design. 

You can choose from 15 different collar types and I picked the “Presidential Spread”, which featured longer collar points, which I’ve begun to prefer for shirts. The collar itself stands quite well and the length fits neatly under the lapels of my jackets, helping to avoid the dreadful collar gap. 


In terms of other details, I did decide to upgrade the shirt’s buttons to mother of pearl (additional $15) and went with a front placket, given the shirt would be worn with the more casual tweed jacket. 


Complimenting the placket, I added a pocket and barrel cuffs with a single button. The cuffs do feel softer than other shirts I’ve had in the past. They don’t feel overly stiff after just one washing. There’s also a much-welcome button on the gauntlet, too. 


It seems like every MTM shirting company has a few surprise details that come standard and impresses me. First, Proper Cloth makes split-back yolks standard on their dress shirts at no extra charge. Complicating matters further, I ordered a patterned shirt, which makes it tougher on the manufacturer to align the pattern along the split seam. I think they did a pretty good job considering the grid pattern is actually more rectangular than square (and, yes, nerds: I know all squares are rectangles). 


Also worth noting for the first time ever in my MTM shirting experience: gusseted seams. This helps keep the end of the shirt’s hem from coming apart while under stress. No other MTM shirtmaker I’ve used has done this for my shirts and it’s nice to see that Proper Cloth makes it standard operating procedure on theirs. 

I should also add that Proper Cloth uses single-needle construction on their seams, which also adds durability. It’s nice to see them not cheapening out on construction and details that I’m sure add time and cost to their manufacturing. 


To be a bit obnoxious, I did add a monogram ($10 fee) to see what it would look like. For placement, I chose the pocket — but you can also pick the right or left cuff. You can pick you thread color and script type.  


After wearing the shirt a few times and putting it in a wash, I’ve been satisfied with the fit and it wears as nicely as other MTM shirts in my wardrobe. After comparing the shirt’s measurements to what I inputed, it’s pretty darn close after a wash (cold water, hang dry). 


I’ve learned after enough MTM shirts gone wrong to give yourself enough room for movement — bending elbows, raising arms, sitting down, bending over, etc. — and not to attempt the ultra-slim “fitted” look for all practical purposes. Slightly longer and wider sleeves let you bend your arms under a jacket and keep the cuff showing still. A bit more room in the torso helps forgive a week-long bender of beer and fried food. My idea of “fit” now is more practical than it was a few years ago. 


And the shirt works well with my ideal ensemble of a donegal brown tweed jacket, navy wool tie and cream square. 

If you’re considering Proper Cloth, then give them a try — especially if you already have a well-fitting shirt you can base your measurements off. In case the shirt doesn’t fit you, their customer service is pretty top notch and they’ll work to get your fit right. 

The construction details included in their shirts are a definite advantage and you can likely find a shirt within your MTM budget. They do have a much more vibrant set of casual fabrics (plaids and checks) that are worth checking out if that’s more your speed. For those looking for something to fit in their conservative business dress wardrobe, they have those as well. 

For the price of the shirt and the quality received, I’d say that Proper Cloth exceeds other MTM shirtmakers I’ve used in the past and I can give them a recommendation. 

A bespoke $230,000 gold shirt probably qualifies as excessive #menswear.

A bespoke $230,000 gold shirt probably qualifies as excessive #menswear.


Rugby tuxedo fun shirts —  For those of you who attend events where the dress code is “creative black tie”, this might be a not completely terrible way to do it. Available (and on sale) in multi-colored stripes and blackwatch

(If you want something more tame, they have a normal, pleated-front shirt, too.) 


Spotted - My friend Eric wearing a tux in Antarctica!this is not photoshopped.  

Can someone please, please!, give this a #menswear tag. Dude is literally keeping it icy.


Spotted - My friend Eric wearing a tux in Antarctica!
this is not photoshopped.  

Can someone please, please!, give this a #menswear tag. Dude is literally keeping it icy.


good ol’ Atters


It seemed a good idea at the time (I was bored).

Atters has a seriously amazing Wordpress blog.

I think this is the most notes any single post featuring Atters I’ve made has ever gotten.

I don’t reblog posts very often, nor do I make requests often — but someone out there needs to give this image a #menswear tag. 


good ol’ Atters



It seemed a good idea at the time (I was bored).

Atters has a seriously amazing Wordpress blog.

I think this is the most notes any single post featuring Atters I’ve made has ever gotten.

I don’t reblog posts very often, nor do I make requests often — but someone out there needs to give this image a #menswear tag. 


Review: Hucklebury shirts (and giveaway)

While there’s been a plethora of made-to-measure shirting companies, I’ve noticed now that there’s a growing number of ready-to-wear shirting companies also popping up looking to find a balance between a better fit for customers who aren’t necessarily looking for the overwhelming options and choices that come with MTM online (or the hassle of measuring oneself or well-fitting shirt). 

One of these is Hucklebury, founded by Parag and Dhawal, that seeks to find a balance on these several factors. 

In terms of fabric, Hucklebury sources their fabrics from the Italian mills Thomas Mason and Tessitura Monti. The shirt sent to me for review I found is a 2-ply cotton poplin, which is a bit nicer for warmer weather as its a bit lighter. After a wash, the fabric held its dimensions well and I didn’t notice any shrinkage, which is nice.

For construction and design, Parag told me that they went through at least 25 to 30 variations on the pattern before finally settling on the two fits available (slim and regular) and that the shirts are made alongside shirts manufactured for brands like Zegna and Armani.

An interesting design choice includes adding a reinforced stitching on the bottom horizontal buttonhole with thicker thread to combat against the stress of pulling at the waistline and prevent stretching. 

On the collar, Hucklebury opted to have their collars sewn by hand, from the outside in, to help it stand up higher and not fall under the lapels of a jacket. The collar itself isn’t super skinny and puny, either. It’s of average size and the button-down collar works nicely sans necktie.

The backs of the shirt are darted, which I know can be kind of controversial among guys. My tailor refuses to do darts on shirts, however, I own several darted shirts and they do help add a slimmer profile that many trimmer and athletic gentlemen will appreciate. 

But it all comes down to fit — and I’m pleased with it. The chest, shoulders and waistline fit really well. Not too constrictive, nor too baggy for my tastes. 

Hucklebury sizes by neck, however, they don’t size by sleeve length. I tend to have longer arms (typically, I am a 15/35) so the shirt fell a bit short on my arms. If you’ve got shorter arms though, then it should be OK. 

The back darting does help taper the torso dramatically so you avoid the “puff” at the waistline when you tuck in your shirt. I feel this is among one of the more important points of fit from a visual standpoint — provided you’re wearing a properly sized collar and sleeve, too. 

Overall, I can appreciate what Hucklebury attempts to do for ready-to-wear shirts by going with higher-end fabric mills and bringing attention to a few key details. Their prices aren’t out of line — ranging from $85-$95 — considering the fabrics used and worth consideration.

Giveaway contest: Hucklebury is holding a contest, which you can enter below. 

Enter to win one Thomas Light Blue Stripes dress shirt (worth $95) size 15.

Winners will be announced on November 26.

The more entries you make, the greater your points, the greater your chance to win:

  • Answer a simple question: 5 points
  • Like Hucklebury on Facebook: 4 points
  • Tweet about the giveaway: 2 points (You can tweet once per day)

For U.S. residents only.

Click here to enter the giveaway!


Casual fall uniform

Alex (aka, mrdanger) took these shots of me at NorthernGRADE a little while back and it’s essentially what I’ve been wearing since the weather’s taken a bit of a cooler turn here in Chicago. 

Working from home doesn’t exactly encourage you to do things normal working folks do — like “take a shower” and “wear pants”. However, once I make the effort to appear like a functional member of the outside world, I’ve found myself reaching for the same items from my wardrobe every day. 

This isn’t a far departure from my uniform experiment from a while ago. The selvedge raw denim jeans and the blue OCBD shirt have reappeared. As far as I’m concerned, these items can be worn for three seasons of the year, taking time off for summer (during which I substitute in linen shirts and linen-cotton trousers). 

But with the cooler weather, I’ve been grabbing one of five wool sweaters from a cedar chest my parents gave to me as a birthday gift. It’s a combination of two v-neck lambswool sweaters from Howard Yount, a shawl-collared chunky-knit cardigan and two L.L.Bean crewnecks that I’ve become fond of lately for their warmth and quality. 

When I leave the apartment to grab lunch at the Italian grocer, I’ve thrown on my vintage Barbour Beaufort that I rewaxed myself at the beginning of the season (a tremendous pain in the ass if you’ve never done it before). The jacket’s pockets carry all the stuff I need with me and the game pocket in the back can stow stuff while you’re at a bar — like gloves, a knit hat and scarf. I’ve even put a portable umbrella in there once.

Footwear has been a pair of ranger moccasins with Vibram soles, which have been insanely comfortable to wear and perfect for slightly rainy days. Otherwise, I’m still reaching for the Clarks desert boots, but I imagine L.L.Bean Boots will be making an appearance once snow becomes an issue. 

I suppose ”country” attire of both American and British influences inspired my desire to swing toward a more casual wardrobe — basically the kind of stuff that ends up on Thornproof. While I particularly like the look of tailored clothing in the spring and summer, I don’t have the same affection for it in the colder months. 

A tailored jacket in the cooler months means a tailored overcoat and every time you go out you have to find a place to stash that heavy thing if there’s no coat check (and we all know there’s no coat check at dive bars). Dress shoes are quickly rendered useless unless you choose to constantly wear overshoes or willing to buy at least two pairs of dress boots with Dainite soles for traction. Rock salt and sludge become enemies of flannel trousers. 

I might be overthinking it all, of course, and I certainly keep some cold-weather tailored clothing on hand, but it’s the exception for my daily wardrobe — not the rule. I really do prefer to wear workwear at this time of year, especially since I don’t work in an office. 

My one gripe would be that it doesn’t offer much of an opportunity to wear a necktie. I think ties look awkward under v-necks, are impractical under crewnecks and if I’m wearing a shawl-collared cardigan at home, there’s not much need for a tie. 

It’s relatively simple and takes zero real thought in the morning (or early afternoon) when getting dressed. It will look rather appropriate for most instances and you can dress it up with a nicer pair of tweed trousers if you’d like. But let’s face it: In the sea of black North Face fleece zip-ups that seems to reappear each winter, you probably won’t need to go to such lengths. 


Review: Cottonwork made-to-measure dress shirts

Recommending a made-to-measure shirtmaker comes with a lot of caveats, which makes them tough to review. Fit is, of course, paramount, but once you’ve got a well-fitting shirt in your wardrobe, you can take your measurements from the shirt nearly anywhere. 

Provided you’ve got a shirt you’re happy with in terms of fit, then you can look for a shirtmaker who has the fabrics and options you want in a shirt. CottonWork has these in spades and the shirt they allowed me to make for a review has the characteristics I’d encourage anyone to look for in their MTM shirting. 

Let’s start at the beginning. If you have a well-fitting shirt, then you can simple take measurements off that shirt and input them at CottonWork. This is my recommended method. And if you don’t have a tape measure, CottonWork will give you a free starter kit that has a tape measure and several fabric swatches. 

From that point forward, it’s a fairly standard process that those of you who’ve done MTM shirting online will recognize. You pick you fabric and use a shirt builder that gives you a live preview of your order’s details. 

On the topic of fabric, CottonWork offers a wide variety, starting at $45 for cotton-blends to fabrics from renowned mills Thomas Mason and Tessitura Monti that range north of $200. For those wondering if there’s a discernible difference for a high end fabric, I’d argue that there is after receiving my shirt made from a Thomas Mason oxford cloth. There’s a refinement to the fabric and a softness that’s unlike what I’ve seen elsewhere. 

While I kept it fairly predictable in terms of fabric choice — as many of you know, solid blue is often my preference — I decided to make some slight straying choices from what I typically prefer. Instead of my preference for a placket front, I went with a French front and also pocket-less, too, as I intended for this to be worn with suits in a slightly more formal look.

For the shirt’s collar, I went with a spread collar and I really love how soft the collar is around the neck. It’s not stiff and doesn’t feel like cardboard’s inside like some shirt collars. You’ll also notice the buttons on the shirt are mother-of-pearl, which is a nice touch that’s often an option you have to pay extra for at most MTM shirting places, but not CottonWork.

The collar has a decent roll when worn with a necktie. I will admit that while I like that it has removable collar stays, I prefer to not wear collar stays to make the collar a bit more soft in appearance. Well-made collars and a necktie should work just fine most of the time to keep things upright. This collar might very well be the most comfortable shirt collar I’ve had outside of my Brooks Brothers OCBDs. 

In terms of construction, it’s worth pointing out that all CottonWork shirts are single-needle stitched with 22 stitches per inch. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to count stitches in an inch, but it’s a pain in the ass. And, yes, I did count them on my shirt and their claim holds up, in case you were wondering. 

CottonWork also offers an optional split-back yoke. Several other MTM operations require you pay extra for this, but it’s a free option at CottonWork. If you’re not familiar with split-back yokes, the reason for this preference is one of better fit across the shoulder. With the fabric at a diagonal in a split yoke, it stretches better when you move your arms out, but it’s also more expensive for the shirtmaker to produce. (You can read more about split-back yokes here.)

For cuffs, I went with what CottonWorks described as a Neapolitan cuff. I wasn’t sure if I’d like the style as it’s a bit flashy, but worn under a jacket it’s less obvious. Cuff construction is a bit more substantial than the collar and the sleeve features a gauntlet button, too. 

Of course, monogramming is available. I opted for the collar, so it would be hidden, but you can opt for the chest, cuffs or placket, too. I don’t typically wear monogrammed items, but I figured it’d be worth showing those reading this review what it looks like. If you don’t like scripted fonts, you should know they have two other scripted fonts and a sans-serif block font available. 

In terms of fit, I’m pleased with it after a wash and iron. I wore the shirt out on Friday evening and didn’t find any issues in regards to fit with it. My latest MTM shirts have been slightly fuller in the upper torso to allow for movement, but I’ve had them aggressively taper at the waist. While I don’t typically like to wear a dress shirt sans a jacket, this does help balance comfort against “puffy shirt waist” syndrome.

Because I used measurements off another MTM shirt I’d gotten after visiting a tailor in person, a lot of the finer measurement problems had been worked out after a few trials and adjustments. CottonWork did a good job of replicating the shirts I had already in my wardrobe. 

If you’re concerned about getting an ill-fitting shirt, then let me recommend you go with one of their $45 fabrics first to see how it fits as a test shirt. I’ve often found it takes several trials before dialing in your fit on a MTM shirt — especially if you’re basing measurements off your body instead of a well-fitting shirt. Alternatively, you can send in your best fitting shirt for CottonWork to replicate, too.

So, if you’re looking for a MTM shirtmaker that does quality construction, can easily replicate the fit of your best shirt and give you a wide breadth of optional details, then check out CottonWork. To date, they’ve been the most impressive online-only MTM experience I’ve had and have matched the in-person MTM shirtmakers I’ve used in the past with their quality of work. 

About The Silentist

A menswear blog on finding your personal style, written by Kiyoshi Martinez.

I work at Khaki's of Carmel and live in the Monterey Bay area. Formerly from Chicago.

E-mail me, I'm fairly nice: thesilentist@gmail.com

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